Alleged fraud: CSO accuses FG of violating constitution in Babachir's trial

Alleged fraud: CSO accuses FG of violating constitution in Babachir's trial

A Civil Society Organisation working to control corruption and accelerate justice and service delivery in Nigeria, TransparencIT Nigeria, has accused the federal government of violating the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA).

The organisation made the accusation via its Twitter handle on Monday, April 15.

TransparencIT Nigeria was reacting to the delay in the arraignment of the former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal.

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Lawal and five others were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged diversion of N544 million Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) funds but their trial is yet to commence.

The case is before Justice Jude Okeke of FCT High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja.

The court had on Monday, March 18, granted leave to the EFCC to amend the charge in the trial of Lawal and three others, over the alleged fraud.

The former SGF was arraigned on February 12 alongside Hamidu Lawal, a director in his company, Sulaiman Abubakar, staff in the company and Apeh Monday, managing director Josmon Technologies Limited and Rholavision Engineering Limited.

Justice Okeke granted the leave, following an application by EFCC counsel, Mr Ufom Uket to add the company, Josmon Technologies Limited, in count 6, 9 and 10.

Justice Okeke granted the leave for EFCC to amend the charge and in accordance with section 218 of ACJA, adding that he must file a fresh charge.

The judge also granted the prayers of the defendants ‘s counsel and ordered that the defendants continue in the existing bail conditions. In addition he said since the defendants ‘s counsel complained of the effect of prosecution ‘s amended charge on their preparation he would grant an adjournment.

Justice Okeke adjourned then until Thursday, April 11 for commencement of trial, but the federal government failed to arraign the accused persons.

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The former SGF had earlier pleaded not guilty to the 10-count charge filed against him by the EFCC.

He was suspended and later sacked after he was indicted by the National Assembly and another panel over issues relating to the alleged fraud.

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